Labor workers in Qatar suffer from dire conditions, say they are ‘prisoners’

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A documentary reveals the exploitation of Nepalese migrant workers in Qatar, who live in dire conditions, are denied their salaries, and have their passports confiscated by the companies they work for.

The investigative documentary by reporter Benjamin Best, titled “WDR Sport Inside: Trapped in Qatar,” was broadcast on German television channel WDR on June 5.

In the documentary, migrant workers report not getting paid by the companies they work for, living in miserable accommodation, and having their passports confiscated by their employers, so that they are able to neither leave the country nor work for another company.

One Nepalese worker said: “We are prisoners. Every day we eat bread and drink water. Without money we can’t afford anything else.”

“Month after month, our situation is getting worse. I can’t do it anymore, I just want to go home.”

“Since November, the company boss told us again and again our salary would arrive. He kept asking us to be patient,” the worker added, noting that he has not received a salary for eight months.

Despite the fact that Qatar had promised to reform its migrant laborers monitoring system, known as kafala, in order to improve the working and living conditions for migrant workers, the situation is getting worse, according to the documentary.

Using a hidden camera to shoot labor camps in Qatar, the documentary showed the conditions migrants were living in: Dirty walls, dead cockroaches, and bathrooms located outside in the scorching heat, as well as small, dark rooms with eight workers crammed inside.

Most of the laborers interviewed, who revealed they were working on building stadiums for the upcoming World Cup 2022, said they had not received their salaries for months.

“Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to be dead,” one worker said. “We need to be rescued from this situation.”

The worker said he is concerned for his family since he has not been able to send money to them for eight months, adding that he’s also not able to go back to Nepal because his employer confiscated his passport.

“Somebody has got to help us.”

His wife, who lives in Nepal, was also interviewed in the documentary, saying her situation is very difficult since she is unable to pay for their children’s school fees. “I can’t explain how terrible it is for us.”

According to the documentary, 1,426 Nepalese workers have died in Qatar since 2009.

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